Visitors returning to the Walla Walla Vintners tasting room will notice significant changes. But one thing we’ll never change is our commitment to producing the same elegant wines we have for the last 20 years. Great wine begins in the Vineyard. We source fruit not only from our own Estate Vineyard, but also from some of the oldest and most acclaimed vineyards in the Walla Walla and Columbia Valleys. We work directly with these growers to ensure the highest quality fruit, monitoring our blocks and rows throughout the growing season, many of which we’ve been working with since the winery opened its doors in 1995. Small lot fermentations, punch-downs, and our small basket press all promote gentle extraction of color and skin tannins without the harsh and bitter seed tannins. Oak aging provides the ideal conditions for the flavors to develop, while using barrels from several different cooperages allows us to add subtle layers of oak tannin and aromas to the final blend. Lastly, by blending varietals and lots from different vineyard sites, we can combine those specific flavor profiles into the bottle you see before you.
Walla Walla Vintners started in 1995 when pioneering winemakers, Gordy Venneri and Myles Anderson established the eighth winery in what would become one of Washington’s most celebrated appellations. Over the next two decades, we earned a reputation for our sustainably and traditionally crafted, elegant and ageworthy wines served in a beautifully rustic and friendly setting (on a picturesque plateau in the shadow of the Blue Mountains). In 2016, we were honored to be named “Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year” by Wine Press Northwest. And we began a new chapter a year later, when Myles and Gordy decided it was time to officially retire and welcomed the Haladay family as owners; continuing our tradition of being a family run winery.
Today, Scott Haladay along with winemaker William vonMetzger, are working in concert to envision the next 20 years for Walla Walla Vintners while maintaining our important traditions and enhancing the guest experience.
Our story began in 1981 with two friends who started as winemaking hobbyists. Gordy Venneri is a second-generation Walla Wallan and former insurance salesman whose roots go back to the small southern Italian village of Serra Pedace in Calabria. His inspiration was a life-changing trip to meet his Italian relatives who shared their homemade wine. Dr. Myles Anderson was a college professor and administrator who enjoyed wine and started making small amounts for fun.
Gordy and Myles found themselves in the elite company of Walla Walla’s pioneering winemakers including Gary Figgins of Leonetti and Rick Small of Woodward Canyon. Fifteen years later with much experimentation and industry collaboration instructing them, and praise for the wines growing, they founded Walla Walla Vintners in 1995 with 675 cases.
Over the years, the partners kept their focus on limited production, labor-intensive, hand-crafted, high quality and elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Sangiovese. Respected wine critic and writer, Paul Gregutt, describes their wines as “seductive, soft and round in the Leonetti mold.”
The tradition of a humble approach and special commitment to Walla Walla and fellow wine makers remains. Gordy and Myles are well known for their generous, collaborative spirit, sharing their knowledge with other wineries – describing their philosophy as “competing creatively.” That belief in helping others and giving back inspired Myles to help create the Institute for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College. And it motivated them to assist other wineries as they were getting their start including K Vintners, Spring Valley Vineyards, College Cellars and àMaurice.
Before retiring in early 2017, Dr. Myles Anderson was inducted into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame in 2011 and awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers in 2014. He and Gordy shared the honor of being named “2016 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year” by Wine Press Northwest.
Scott comes to Walla Walla Vintners after a 20 year career in the technology sector including 10 developing and implementing software for beer and wine distributors. He had been searching for a winery for a while when he was introduced to Gordy and Myles the summer of 2016, and immediately knew he found something very special. He will continue to focus the winery’s efforts on maintaining many important traditions like our pioneering history, elegant winemaking and humble approach, while enhancing the customer experience.
In 2017, after over 20 years of serving Walla Walla Vintners customers, Myles retired. Over the last phase of his career Myles always had two roles. He was a partner and founder of Walla Walla Vintners and helped start, then run, the Walla Walla Community College Viniculture and Enology program. His career was capped off by two prestigious honors: in 2011 Myles was inducted into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame and was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers in 2014. Myles did all he could to help foster the collaboration and growth of the Walla Walla winemaking community. Despite being retired, Myles still enjoys coming out the winery to see friends and customers as well as be a part of blending trials.
As Winemaker, William oversees wine from the time grape clusters arrive at the winery until the finished product is bottled. He manages fermentations, selecting barrels, leading blending trials and monitoring and maintaining wines during the aging process. William began his career at Walla Walla Vintners in 2002 while attending the Institute for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College. At our winery he works closely with Judah to ensure vineyard and fruit quality that produce the award-winning wines which made Walla Walla Vintners famous. William tirelessly focuses to ensure that each wine has depth and complexity through using a mix of over a dozen different coopers and blending different vineyards and varietals to achieve a consistent and elegant result.
Gordy worked tirelessly to ensure that Walla Walla Vintners held a special place in many peoples' hears. “I am very grateful for all that Myles and I accomplished together. We founded Walla Walla’s eighth winery and helped make history in one of America’s most exciting and dynamic wine regions.” Going forward, he is going to be looking over William's shoulder from time to time to ensuring that the Vintners wines adhere to the style and approach that makes the winery unique.
Michelle Aichele comes to us from Walla Walla roots. Her family’s involvement in the industry is what sparked her interested and career here, beginning in 2006. Over the last 10 years she has refined her skills in operations and winery management. She segued from her degree in teaching to follow her passion and love for Walla Walla wines and continues to advocate for the valley and all of its beauty.
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